Volunteers address unmet needs

World Renew teams interview more than 500 survivors of Hurricane Harvey who are still seeking aid.

June 12, 2018

Volunteers inspect a Texas home damaged by Hurricane Harvey that still needs repairs nearly a year later.
Credit: World Renew

“Be careful when you go into the house. This end of the house has shifted from the foundation block.” With this warning in mind, volunteers gingerly entered what used to be the kitchen where Tabitha cooked the family dinners for her husband, Tim, their seven children, and her in-laws, Tim Sr. and Tomasina. Hurricane Harvey flooded the house with more than two feet of water, and the family could no longer live in their home.

On August 26, 2017, Harvey (sometimes known as the “Houston floods”) dumped between 20 and 57 inches of rain on the city of Houston and the surrounding area. Galveston County, between Houston and the Gulf of Mexico, was heavily hit.

Volunteers from World Renew DRS, were assigned to complete an Unmet Needs Assessment. It gave them a chance to hear the stories, report needs, hold survivors’ hands, and pray with and for them.

During two weeks last month, more than 500 people whose lives were still far from normal were interviewed. The teams reported many unmet needs to the Galveston long-term recovery group for prioritizing and follow up.

Many of the people were reported to say things like this:

“If only I had a stove, my husband and I could move back in our own little house.”

“If the big hole where our roof collapsed could be fixed, we can go back to our own house.”

“If only my family and I can all be in the same house again…”

They also heard over and over, “Thank you for listening to our stories. Thank you for listening.” The volunteers heard stories of courage, fear, faith, panic, love, sharing, and a community pulling together.

Volunteers also met Tabitha and her family, toured their former home, and learned about the day the flood waters rose so high the family had to make a raft to escape.

Like many others the volunteers interviewed, Tabitha's family has worked hard to repair their home during the last eight months. Everything wet had been removed, and stubborn mold had been removed. Drywall, the steps and porch have been replaced. But, the volunteers were told, before the family can go home, there are still many other repairs that are needed.

Like the others, the World Renew volunteers reported what they still need to the Galveston County Long Term Recovery Group.

This article was excerpted from a blog post by Elly Dalmaijer, one of the World Renew volunteers. The full story appears on the World Renew Website.

To help support World Renew in its response efforts, donate online.

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